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World Rugby issues statement after Carl Hayman joins legal action

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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World Rugby have issued a statement following this week’s revelation that Carl Hayman, the former All Blacks prop, has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41 and has joined the litigation which also includes England’s 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson.

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The New Zealander was diagnosed after extensive testing in England. He had been suffering from constant headaches that led him into alcohol abuse and to contemplate suicide. Hayman joined the claim after spending time in England with Newcastle after his All Blacks career ended following the 2007 World Cup.

The claimants say World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union failed to protect them from the risks of concussions and sub-concussions. Hayman told Dylan Cleaver at The Bounce, an independent sports writing website: “I spent several years thinking I was going crazy. At one stage that is genuinely what I thought.

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“It was the constant headaches and all these things going on that I couldn’t understand. It would be pretty selfish of me to not speak up and talk about my experience when I could help a guy in New Zealand perhaps who doesn’t understand what is happening to him and has no support network to lean on.”

Having seen the media coverage that followed the Hayman revelation, World Rugby issued a statement in response on Wednesday. It read: “We are saddened by the accounts of former players and their experiences. It is not easy to speak so candidly about their personal circumstances and we appreciate what it takes for them to do so. 

“We care deeply about every member of the rugby family and echo New Zealand Rugby’s comments that player welfare is the sport’s top priority, which is reflected in our six-point plan to further cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare. 

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This commitment has former players at its heart. We cannot comment on the specifics of any potential legal action involving nine former players in England and Wales. However, as we have not been contacted directly by Carl Hayman or any representative, we are not yet clear how his case relates to the current proceedings.”

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